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Vietnam War veteran waited in line at a Jane Fonda book signing just to spit tobacco juice in her face, calling her a traitor to the US

Sam Dickson

Back in 2005 – a  man spit tobacco juice into the face of actress Jane Fonda  after waiting in line to have her sign her new book, police said.  Here is the full story:

Fonda has been on tour and doing interviews to promote her just-published memoir, “My Life So Far.” The thrice-married, two-time Academy Award winner covers a wide array of topics, including her 1972 visit to Hanoi to protest the Vietnam War, during which she was photographed on a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun. She has apologized for that photo, but not for opposing the war.

Capt. Rich Lockhart of the Kansas City Police Department said that although Fonda did not want to press charges against Michael A. Smith, 54, of Kansas City, he was arrested on a municipal charge of disorderly conduct after off-duty officers caught him just outside Unity Temple, where Fonda was signing books.

Lockhart said Smith was released on bond late Tuesday night and is due to appear in municipal court on May 27.

Smith, a Vietnam veteran, told The Kansas City Star on Wednesday that Fonda was a “traitor” and that her protests against the war were unforgivable. He said he normally does not chew tobacco but did so Tuesday solely to spit juice on the actress.

“I consider it a debt of honor,” he told The Star for a story on its Web site, “She spit in our faces for 37 years. It was absolutely worth it. There are a lot of veterans who would love to do what I did.”

Fonda drew a crowd of about 900 for her appearance, said Vivian Jennings, whose Rainy Day Books of suburban Fairway, Kan., sponsored the event at Unity Temple in Kansas City. Fonda, 67, spoke for about 15 minutes, answered questions for another 15, then began signing copies of her book.

Jennings said Fonda received a standing ovation when she came out and when she finished speaking. Alan Tilson, one of those who had his book signed but left before the incident, said the crowd was very “warm and supportive” to Fonda and he was surprised to learn what had happened.

Jennings said the actress never got up from her seat and continued autographing books after the tobacco juice was wiped off.

“The important thing is that she was so calm and so gracious about it,” Jennings said of Fonda. “She was wonderful.”

Jennings said that the man had a book to which the name “Jody” had been affixed as he approached to have it autographed. She said that when Fonda got the book, she looked up and said, “You’re not Jody.”

“At that moment, he turned his head quickly and spit a trail of tobacco juice,” Jennings said. “He immediately jumped off the stage and started running down the aisle.”

Jynne Martin of Random House, Fonda’s publisher, said the actress was flying to Minneapolis Wednesday for another appearance on the book tour she began April 5 and expected to have a statement


“A huge, huge mistake”

— this was what Oscar-winning actress Jane Fonda said about her infamous Vietnam photo during a personal engagement she attended recently at Maryland’s The Wienberg Center for the Arts.

While there, about fifty former military members and their supporters banded and protested outside carrying placards showing copies of the infamous picture which earned Jane Fonda the moniker “Hanoi Jane”. It can be remembered that the said photo showed the younger Jane Fonda sitting atop an anti-aircraft battery wearing a helmet.

The placards the protesters brought also had these words written on them: “Forgive? Maybe. Forget? Never!”
When asked by one person in the audience what her thoughts are about the ongoing protest outside the center, Jane Fonda responded that she understands the sentiments of these people and that really makes her sad. She further added that whenever possible, she makes time to sit down and talk with them [military veterans].

The now 77-year-old actress, then, said that the photo – which was taken 1972 – was a “huge’ huge mistake”. According to her, the photo still hurts her though it has been years since it was taken and it will go on to haunt her to her grave as the “Hanoi Jane” picture made lots of people believe she was against the government. This was not the first time Jane Fonda expressed regret for her infamous Vietnam photo. She also voiced out the same remorse in an interview way back in 2005.

During that said interview, Jane Fonda said that the image of her, being Henry Fonda’s daughter, sitting on an enemy’s anti-aircraft gun looked like a betrayal to her country. As she placed it in her own words — “…it was like I was thumbing my nose at the military and the country which gave me the privilege”. Jane Fonda, eventually, admitted that it was the biggest lapse of judgment she could have done in her part.

Sam Dickson

Sam Dickson is one of the authors writing for The Vintage News